Rivian R1T review: “the game changer of the truck market” Review 2021

What, someone beat Tesla to build an electric production truck?

That’s right, while Tesla’s Cybertruck is still a fantastic concept, here’s a real, honest production electric truck, built in Normal, Illinois. Discover the Rivian R1T. Almost all of the major automakers in the United States have announced electric versions of their current truck, but so far no fossil-free version has come off an assembly line.

Tell us about it.

In terms of size, the R1T is a bit bigger than a standard European pickup like the Ford Ranger, a bit wider, and 5.5 meters long, which is around 300mm longer. Roughly the same amount smaller than the iconic F150 in a similar specification. A good size then – but a better design, combining familiar truck proportions with bold, almost jarring futuristic styling cues. A bright white full-width LED bar spans the nose instead of a traditional grille, with a matching full-width taillight at the rear. The vertical headlight stacks – Rivian calls them Stadium Lights – looked fake at first, but I’m surprised how quickly my brain normalized them.

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The two tow hooks built into the front bumper are the biggest indicator of its true off-road capabilities (they’re designed to stay attached even when you pull the R1T through the mud to the door handles) and there’s also has a trailer hitch, neatly hidden behind a panel at the rear. It’s clearly a “real truck” from every angle, which is important in America – based on my research in shopping mall parking lots. But from there, things become deliciously unknown. Look below and you will see …

Let me guess – not much?

Bingo. No locking differentials, no transfer case, no fragile, essential mechanics hanging down while waiting to bend over a tree stump. The ground is completely flat. This is great news off-roading, as obstacles that would normally require a small jig to get around, lest we break a differential into pieces, can now be cleared directly without worry. Even if something scratches the ground, it’s only the ground. You will still go home. Adjustable air springs can raise or lower the frame up to 165mm on the fly. At maximum, this provides 370mm of play.

Instead of the conventional locking differentials, we have four powerful permanent magnet electric motors, two at the front and at the rear. These motors, mounted in the center in pairs, can individually direct torque completely to either side, and there are plenty of them. The front engines alone make about 415 hp, the rear a bit more, for 835 hp combined. Better yet – and far more important – with both engines giving full grain, there is over 900 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough growl to put Pangea back together. Combine the insane power figures with the precise, real-time control of the R1T and you’ve got a surprisingly capable off-roader.

I’m still not convinced this thing is different.

Fine. The R1T can even order the wheels on either side to turn in opposite directions, causing the truck to spin in place like the Tasmanian Devil.

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Wow ! It’s new. But probably not very useful or easy on the tires …

OK. So let’s come back to more useful things. The R1T has a range of around 300 miles and of course we used it to climb mountains faster. But with the regenerative brakes set to maximum, we’ve added reach on the way down, and the regeneration is so strong you can effectively pedal this thing.

Finally, all the dirt roads must end. Which in the past meant deciding where we were in the eternal off-road compromise: the better off-road a vehicle performs, the worse it will be on the road. Huge, roaring tires. Direction with more play than Bill Shakespeare. Desperate fuel economy because we installed short gears to help with bad acceleration from the huge roaring tires. You got the idea.

The R1T’s handling might just be the most shocking part of the whole truck. First, the air suspension lowers to maximize an already low center of gravity thanks to the flat “skateboard” chassis. Active shocks are monotube shocks with a triple valve external reservoir that work hand in hand with Rivian’s roll control system. This electro-hydraulic system connects the suspension to all four corners.

What is the result ?

Clean, flat corners. From a van. On heavy all-terrain tires. Imagine what it is on the optional 22-inch sport wheels. It grips well in the corners, but more than that, it is fluid and sophisticated.

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Until a certain point. Because here’s how to tell if your car is driving well: try using the touchscreen. You can get in here, but no matter how good the ride, burying every command, from off-road modes to stereo in the center touchscreen, is a problem.

It seems to be the nature of things these days …

Yes, but you forgive it here because the cabin design is more like a premium Volvo than a regular truck. It’s sleek and modern, with durable, high-quality surfaces throughout. The roof is a single piece of glass for a panoramic view of the sky. There is real wood on the dashboard, all from sustainable sources. The Meridian sound system is one of the best I’ve heard in a new vehicle, and if you pull the handle at the bottom of the center console you’ll find that it’s actually the Camp Speaker, a chain wireless hi-fi powered by bluetooth. can take with you. Thoughtful touches like this set the R1T apart.

And here’s another one, the Gear Tunnel. Behind the rear passenger doors are two more small side doors that open to reveal a storage area that spans the width of the truck. You’d have a person inside, and based on the fact that there are glow-in-the-dark release buttons inside, I’m not the first to think so. The open doors also serve as seats. Or stand up, to help load things into bed. This tunnel can also contain the optional Camp Kitchen, a slide-out capsule with convection burners, utensils and even a gray water system.

Combined with a lockable, motorized tonneau cover and another cargo bay under the hood (what, you thought there was an engine up front?) This must have the most hidden storage of any truck ever. built.

OK, I am sold, where do I sign?

The R1T is truly a huge accomplishment. To do something so useful, so thoughtful, so good would be a feat for a company like Ford or Land Rover, but would it be a startup’s first vehicle? Maybe something so new and revolutionary can’t come from a big company. Too many cooks in the kitchen.

And the best part is, I don’t have to tell you it costs as much as your house. The R1T, with all 900 lb-ft of torque and the vast majority of the features mentioned above, will only set you back $ 67,000 (£ 48,800) in the US. Go ahead and compare that to all the other vehicles on sale today for that amount that do 0-60 mph in three seconds flat. I’ll wait.

British relevance remains to be clarified. Apparently, Rivian is in talks with the UK government about building a factory near Bristol, not necessarily to produce the R1T, but other smaller, more European cars using the same technology. This one? Expect to see imports landing from early next year. This, rather than the Cybertruck, is a game-changer in the truck market.

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About Leonard J. Kelley

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